Against all odds South Korea court ruled in favor of gay pride parade and Korea Queer Cultural Festival 2015 had a proper closing ceremony
While the historic ruling in favor of same-sex marriage swept the U.S. and the world over the weekend, Seoul hosted its own version of a pride parade Sunday, despite vocal opposition from antigay groups.
Seoul Plaza, a traditional rallying point for Korean activists, turned into a rainbow-studded space awash with scores of local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender revelers and their supporters, who gathered to march through central Seoul in the evening under the slogan of “Queer Revolution.”
As the final event of celebration for sexual minorities kicked off at 11:00 a.m., thousands of sexual minorities and spectators flocked to the Seoul Plaza where nearly 90 gay rights groups, embassies and global companies set up their booths to campaign for equal rights.
Mark Lippert, the U.S. ambassador to Korea, also visited Seoul Plaza to look around the booths, take pictures and send a supportive message for the festival organization.
The day’s festivities began at around 3:00 p.m. with a performance of a man in a black glitzy costume dancing to Madonna’s signature song “Like a Virgin.” Loud cheers erupted in the sea of people waving rainbow-colored fans.
“We came here today to overcome and cure voices of hatred” said Kang Myeong-jin, a leader of the festival organization committee in an opening speech. “Please help us to conclude the festival in a good manner”
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Around the corner, hundreds of anti-LGBT campaigners, mostly right-wing and Protestant groups, beefed up their opposition against the event, with some calling for “Jesus,” singing gospels and holding up placards that read “homosexuality is against nature” from the early morning. They also set up a booth to collect signatures for a petition to outlaw homosexuality in Korea.
Dozens of police buses were stationed around City Hall, with hundreds of police officers at the scene to prevent possible clashes between the LGBT groups and their opponents.
A high school student Park So-young, who is lesbian, finally made her way to the parade for the first time after hesitating for several years due to her parents’ opposition against her sexuality.
“I hesitated to come here at first, but I feel more confident to show my true self here after seeing many people like me and those who support gays,” said the 18-year-old, who was met with hostility and had to drop out of middle school after coming out at the age of 14.
Park said that she felt sad about the antigay groups, pointing out that there is still a lot of work to be done to raise awareness on sexual minorities in the country.
The big day for the local LGBT community and its advocates was made even bigger with the Friday ruling in the U.S. that legalizes same-sex marriage across the nation.
“The U.S. ruling indicates that countries around the world are slowly becoming more accepting of homosexuality,” she said, echoing hope for a change in Korea, too.
Steve, an Irish national, who only wanted to be identified by his first name, said he came all the way from Chungcheong Province to celebrate Friday’s “monumental” ruling together with others in the gay pride parade.
“The U.S. ruling is monumental because it means that gays are now more accepted in the world. I feel like it is an end of a battle for gay rights,” said the 25-year-old English teacher.
But in Korean society Steve still feels “invisible,” as he still remains a “straight” guy at work out of fear for how Koreans would react to his sexual identity. “I am afraid to come out because there seem to be no regulations that can stop people from despising and discriminating against gays.”
The festival organization committee also tightened security for the event by issuing permits to take pictures at the scene only after checking ID cards. It also did not reveal the route for the Sunday parade until the last minute, citing the possibility of antigay protestors blocking its march forward.
The pride parade faced a series of challenges before finally being staged Sunday afternoon, as antigay organizations attempted to prevent the parade from taking place.
Christian groups began booking out the likely venues for the parade in May. They also camped out in front of Namdaemun Police Station to block the parade organizers from applying for a necessary permit to hold the event in central Seoul.
When the Queer Cultural Festival opened on June 9, the festival participants were outnumbered at the event venue by protesters holding signs with slogans like “Stop Same-Sex Marriage” and “Gays Out: Homosexuals have no human rights.”
At the height of the Middle East respiratory syndrome scare, the organizers admitted only 50 staff members to the opening show, urging others to follow by live broadcast on YouTube.
After the two-hour opening ceremony, thousands of participants started to march through central Seoul at around 5 p.m. in what organizers called “Korea‘s biggest pride parade in history.”
The marchers followed dozens of decorated trucks carrying performers and banners reading “Marriage Equality” and “Solidarity under the Rainbow,” waving rainbow-colored banners, dancing and singing along to mostly K-pop music.
They often confronted antigay campaigners who stood on the sidewalks of major streets shouting at marchers and holding placards that read “You are born by a mother and father,” “Come back to your beautiful family” and “Repent. Homosexuality is sin.”
The paraders cheered and shouted “We love you” in the faces of their opponents.
One of the Christian groups tried to block the march by parking a bus on the route, but the police soon ordered the vehicle’s removal. The parade continued smoothly without major clashes.
The police estimated about 6,000 people took part in the hour-long parade, but organizers said the number may have topped 20,000.
Organizers said this year’s pride parade carries greater meaning as it marks the first time the parade was held in the heart of Seoul. The annual queer festival first took place in 2000 in Daehangno, an area popular with young people.
Gay Pride In Korea Faces Christian Wrath As Seen At Rally In Seoul
Original By Donald Kirk
Gay pride faced Christian outrage in central Seoul in a showdown that dramatized the conflict between Korea’s deeply conservative values and the country’s latter-day surge toward democratic equality.
Advocates and foes of gay rights clashed after a gay pride rally on the grassy plaza in front of Seoul City Hall that drew several thousand people — many celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage between gay couples.
As gay pride ralliers cheered, sang and danced inside the plaza, thousands of foes of gay marriage shouted slogans and epithets from beyond rows of policemen. The policemen, pouring from dozens of police buses, probably outnumbered both the gay ralliers and their foes.
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A parade in which those at the rally sought to march up the avenue toward the reconstructed Kyongbeok Palace of Korean kings broke up in scuffles between marchers and their critics organized by Seoul’s powerful Protestant churches.
Throughout the rally, thousands of policemen formed a tight ring around a temporary enclosure hastily erected to keep out anti-gay troublemakers. With the police staving off their foes, gay marriage crusaders cheered speeches proclaiming their freedom to do as they please.
Across the avenue, Christian pastors shouted sermons over mega-loudspeakers denouncing gay marriage as contrary to biblical teachings. “Have you heard of Sodom and Gomorrah,” a Protestant pastor responded when asked what he thought of the rally.
The size and anger of the anti-gay protest showed the depth of the opposition to gay rights in a society that is actually rather open about extra-marital sex. Adultery has been legal since Korea’s supreme court in February ruled a law against it was unconstitutional, and prostitution goes on via hostess bars, massage parlors, red light districts and on-line contacts. Still, the notion of gay marriage is almost never mentioned in political debate.
Gay pride advocates do not appear to have formed an agenda that would legalize gay partnerships perhaps by civil contracts. Generally, the most they talk about is the right to live and behave as they wish.
The fact that gay rights crusaders were able to hold the rally in such a conspicuous central location represented a signal triumph for a movement that’s been brewing for years. The police had initially refused to issue a permit for the rally but had to relent after a local court overruled them in the name of free speech.
Although gay rights advocates have organized rallies in recent years, they never before had been able to obtain the permit needed to gather on the city hall plaza, often the site of rallies staged by political groups, labor unions, military veterans and many others.
The weather on a balmy sunny Sunday was perfect for the occasion at which a picnic-like atmosphere prevailed within the fencing that shielded the rally from its foes.
Ralliers sprawled on the grass, did impromptu dances, posed for pictures and applauded songs played by local groups on a large stage. On the fringes of the grass, souvenir stands purveyed gay literature, pins, banners and soft drinks in the rainbow colors of the LGBTQ movement.
Outside the tightly controlled fence surrounding the rally, the mood was that of righteous wrath expressed in biblical quotations as well as banners and posters in Korean and English.
In fact, the anti-gay protesters, crowding broad sidewalks in front of the Seoul City Hall and across the avenue, outnumbered the Gay Pride crowd by a wide margin. They had been preparing for weeks to block the rally, reserving potential rally sites, inveighing against the Gay pride movement in church services and meetings and demonstrating against rally organizers as they asked for permits
Posters hefted by anti-gay demonstrators tended not to use the word “gay” other than to say, “Gay Marriage Out.” Many of the posters said “No” in large letters beside slogans in Korean. “Homosexual rights are not human rights,” said one of the posters. “Marriage is between man and woman,” said another.
Christian and nationalist values suffused the anti-gay protest. Banners proclaiming “Holy Korea” and “Holy, Holy Holy” were raised on high while pastors shouted out the evils of homosexuality as revealed in the bible.
The anti-gay protest was also anti-foreign, at least as seen in declarations about the U.S. Supreme Court decision. “Do not impose foreign culture on Korean cultural values,” said one sign.
The pervasive Christian influence over the anti-gay protest, however, raised another question. About one third of Korea’s 50 million people are Christian, but what about the rest of the people? About one fourth of Koreans are Buddhist while the rest tend to be agnostic or atheist but often influenced by shamanism going deep into Korean cultural history.
Non-Christians also are deeply conservative but may not be so forcefully opposed to gay pride. “I have no problem with that,” said a bystander outside the rally when asked what she thought of marriage for gay couples. “Why does it matter?”
Christian Groups Drum Up Protest Against Seoul’s LGBTQ Pride Parade
A drum line of anti-gay activists loudly played traditional Korean drums near Seoul Plaza on Sunday in an attempt to drown out the 16th Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF).
As thousands of LGBTQ supporters marched toward the reconstructed Gyeongbokgung Palace, non-affirming Christian groups protested Seoul’s annual gay pride parade, holding placards and shouting slogans like “Homosexuals rights are not human rights” behind rows of policemen. Other anti-gay protesters held cultural demonstrations, such as ballet and body worship performances.
“Our prayers will open the sky and the homosexuals will fall, we will be blessed with victory” said Lee Young-hoon, head of the anti-LGBTQ organization Christian Council of Korea
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Despite boisterous protests from anti-gay demonstrators, festival attendees were having a blast inside the grassy Seoul Plaza. LGBT advocates sang and danced as local bands and dance teams performed on stage. Cardboard cutouts of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed visitors of the U.S. embassy booth for a photo opportunity. Several booths also sold LGBTQ souvenirs, including gay literature as well as rainbow-colored flags, pins and soft drinks.
According to the KQCF organizers, about 20,000 people attended the last day of the three-week-long festival—although, Seoul police estimates the number to be closer to 6,000.
Seoul’s annual LGBTQ festival had much to celebrate this year, as the Supreme Court of the United States legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in a historic 5-4 ruling last Friday. Festival attendees cheered as floats decorated with dancers and banners reading “marriage equality” and “solidarity under the rainbow” drove around city hall.
“What happened in the U.S. was incredible … I hope that I [sic] and my girlfriend will be able to celebrate the same here one day,” Suzy Lee, one of the festival participants, told Agence France-Presse. “But we know it will take many, many years here in the South.”
The European Union Representative Department and embassies from 16 countries—the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, France, Belgium, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Israel—attended the KQCF opening ceremony on June 9, despite the MERS scare in South Korea.
“We see this as part of our policy on global human rights,” U.S. diplomat Anthony Tranchini told Voice of America. “The fact that we are here supporting a Korean festival which has been around for 16 years, with about a dozen other embassies—I think we all really just want to show that we are supportive of LGBT human rights here in Korea.”
Various Foreign Embassies Stand On Stage At The KQCF festival
Ahead of this year’s KQCF, Seoul police stations banned the pride parade, citing conflicting permit applications. A Seoul court overturned the ban about two weeks before the parade’s scheduled date. Judge Ban Jeong-woo’s decision ruled in favor of the LGBTQ festival because the right to freedom of assembly must be upheld.
Still, some anti-gay protesters tried to disrupt this year’s pride parade by laying on the ground, a popular method Christian groups used at last year’s KQCF. However, no major violent clashes were reported by Korean media.
Source:Koreaherald News, Forbes Magazine, imkorean.com, Yelimlee Twitter